7/23/06 (updated 8/2)
by: Kathy Carano
The hardest thing in the world to do is say goodbye to a loved one. I was faced with that again this past week. On July 20, Nick and I said our final goodbye to our beloved Boris. I know some people think things like "it's just a cat, get over it," or things of this nature. But he wasn't. Neither was Natasha, his sister. They were our family.
He came into my life a wee little thing. He was kind of goofy, a little clumsy and full of personality. He made friends with the most ardent cat haters. No one could resist him. He was the sweetest and most endearing little boy. It took him over a year to actually learn how to meow. Instead he made kind of "meep" sound. Together with Natasha, they were quite the pair. But Boris, he was the one who found himself in all kinds of predicaments over the years. Here are just a few...
Before Nick and I were married in 1993, I lived in an apartment with a roommate and Boris and Natasha. We had a back door that lead to a kind of a fire escape exit. We were on the second floor. That back door had a screen door attached to it and slowly but surely, Boris and Natasha chewed a very tiny hole in the screen into a hole big enough for them to squeeze through. Having been indoor cats their whole lives, this newfound little trick proved to be quite scary for me! I tried to be conscious of the fact that they might try to get out, but with no AC, and before the screen could be fixed, the door had to be open so we could get a cross breeze in the kitchen. Natasha was the first to squeeze out the hole. But being an uncharacteristically good little girl, all she did was sit on the fire escape right outside the door. Boris on the other hand, when it was his turn to squeeze out, he disappeared. He was gone for about 3 hours, and I was a total basket case. I went up and down the street looking and calling out for him. I was crying so hard, strangers stopped what they were doing and helped me look. We kept looking and looking to no avail. Finally we gave up. I went back and home and cried my eyes out. I was on the phone with my friend Lisa, crying, and she said that when they wanted her cat to come home, they would take the box of food and hold it out the door and shake it so she'd hear it and come back home to eat. Feeling like it was a lost cause, I reluctantly tried this trick. Not 2 minutes later I heard a voice from above, the apartment above mine that is, say "did you lose a cat?" I yelled up that I had and she said, "I think he's up here." Well I ran up the stairs and there was my boy, in her kitchen, on top of her cabinets! (Here is a picture of him on top of our same kitchen cabinets, looking down at his sister who is on top of the fridge. How either of them got up there, is still a mystery, but they did it all the time) Turned out he had gone on his adventure, came back and went up an extra flight of stairs and squeezed into that apartment that also had a hole in the screen! He was just laying up there, chillin. He gave me a look like, "Hi Mom, what's up?" The weirdest thing was, that this person who lived upstairs (and I had never met before) didn't seem the least bit alarmed that there was a strange cat in her apartment on her cabinets. I stood up on a chair, got him down, thanked her profusesly and then took him home. That very day I called the landlord and asked that he have the screen fixed ASAP!
Another time, in the same apartment, we had a clog in our bathtub. With the bathroom right next to the living room, the access panel to the back of the tub was in the living room. We hid it behind a chair. The plumber came and fixed it while we were at work, having the landlord let him in. But what he neglected to do was put the cover back on the access panel! When I got home from work, I looked around as I always have done, for my two babies and only found Natasha. Being in an apartment, there are only so many places to hide. My roommate came home shortly after and I told him how I couldn't find Boris and we searched the apartment again. That is when I noticed that the chair had been moved back to block the access panel, but the cover hadn't been put back in place. OMG! Was Boris in the wall??? You bet he was! We got a flashlight and looked in there, and called his name. Finally the flashlight caught his eye and I saw the little glow. This was terrifying! There is no floor in there, just the fixtures and kind of a 2 x 4 piece of wood that he must have walked on. He was WAY back there. We called out to him and coaxed and prodded and he had to walk that kind of tightrope again to get back. Finally came far enough for us to reach in and grab him. When we got him out, he was black, head to tail! You couldn't see a speck of white on him. He was absolutely filthy! So we popped him into the newly unclogged bathtub and gave him a scrubbing. This is really a photo from that day, when he came out of the tub! He looked like a drowned rat! Nope cats do not like water and he was not pleased to be getting bathed!
There are more silly predicaments that he got himself into, like being locked out of the apartment from the front. Thankfully we have a security door so he only ended up spending the night in the hallway (he got out when Tom, my roomie, went out the front and down to the basement to do laundry and he didn't see Boris sneak out). Another time he got stuck inside a window. Once you know he's ok, you just couldn't help but laugh at his silliness and his "who me?" attitude. This is a picture (left) of him looking out the offending window. A lot of times he sat in the window and one day when I came home from work, it had apparently slammed shut while he was inside and he was stuck. Being as it was summer, the screen was in, so he could breath, but the poor baby was absolutely terrified! The image of that panicked look is still in my head, and when I opened the window, the whole thing was full of fur! He was so scared it came out in buckets! We joked many times that Boris was on his 7th or 8th life by now. He was such a joy, and always entertaining and it probably sounds like he was mischievious, but really he wasn't. His sister was the one who always got into trouble. Boris always got himself in odd situations.
And now almost 17 years later, Boris's later years were fraught with health problems. He had not been doing very well and in March he ended up in the hospital for a two night stay. He had a lot of the problems that come with age in felines. His kidneys were starting to fail, his liver wasn't good, his pancreas was having issues. But he was our fighter, our trooper and each new medicine he got was a new struggle. But he did it. After all, this is the cat who fought his way back from diabetes! When he no longer needed insulin shots, we thought he could do anything. He was our miracle! And after that scare in March he eventually bounced back and was doing well. But another crisis was waiting for us and it was just too much for him.
Nick and I were on vacation the week of July 9 and had him boarded at our vets office. He had a lovely little kitty hotel room. All the things a kitty could ever want.... food, water, litter box, pads for the floor and, best of all, a kitty condo! They took such good care of him and when we picked him up on Monday (July 17) they said they had a few scares with him, be overall he was doing well.
To me, he only seemed ok though. For some time he had been thin, but now he had gotten increasingly more and more frail and off balance. We hoped he just needed a little time to get re-adjusted to being home. But when Wednesday night rolled around and he refused to eat, we knew this was not a good sign. He couldn't afford to skip meals. Since we brought him home on the 17th, I had been sleeping on the sofa with him at night, hoping that would make him feel better. He was quite the mama's boy after all. But when I woke up on the 20th, he was not with me. I could hear that Nick had just gotten up and he went into the bathroom to find him lying on the floor trying to throw up. Nothing, of course, came up because he hadn't eaten. He was frail and felt light as a feather. He could hardly walk. It was 4:45 am.
Nick and I knew this was it, he wasn't going to make it. We had a long, almost 4 hour wait until the vets office would be open at 8:30 am and we tried to sooth him and do whatever we could for him. When we finally called at 8:30, I told Dr. Bedi's assistant Cindy that we were coming in and that we didn't think Boris had any fight left in him. She was surprised because she had thought he was ok. But we left for the office, which is in Euclid... an hour from Akron, where we live. Boris cried a little when we put him back in the carrier, but he was quiet most of the nearly 2 hour drive it took to get there. The one hour drive turned into a 2 hour one when we ran into severe traffic from a bad accident. He held on though.
Once there, we had to wait a short time because someone else was doing the very same thing we were there for. What a rough day for Dr. Bedi and Cindy. When it was our time, we were lucky that there were no other patients and we could take all the time we needed. He never tried to get up off the table like he usually did. We knew it was the right thing, but the hardest thing we ever have to do. It was time to say goodbye to our prince. How can we go through this again? How can I never look at that beautiful face and touch it and kiss it again? We held him, we loved him, we pet him and we cried our eyes out. Cindy and Dr. Bedi cried right along with us. They are such wonderful people. I'll miss seeing them. When it was time, we put Boris's head down, remembering the awful thud that Natasha's made when she passed. We cried some more. Cindy and Dr. Bedi both did their best to comfort and console us, but truly, what consolation is there when you lose your baby? I know he's in a better place, and I know he's not sick anymore. But it hurts like hell and I will miss him every day.
Cindy clipped some of his hair and gave it to me. I plan on finding a locket or other kind of compartment necklace and putting some of his hair in it, to keep it close to my heart always. We stayed with him after it was over for a little while, just to be with him for as long as we could. Neither Nick nor I wanted to completely let go. 17 years is a long time, and he was with us for almost as long as we have been together. We don't know what it's like to be without him. We're finding out that it's lonely and hard, and very sad.
We had the option of taking Boris home to bury, or coming back for his ashes. We chose neither. I don't think either of us could have handled burying him. It would just be too hard and painful. And we did not get Natasha's ashes so we didn't feel right about taking his.
At night now, I hold his blanket on my lap and wish with all my heart it was him, in his favorite spot in the house... mommy's lap. Our heart's are broken but we are trying to remember all the joy he gave us and his happiness at being reunited with his sister.
Here is the Boris photo album I put together